It’s been a long and tumultuous road to get to where I am, major wise, and it’s not finished yet. All my life I had been interested in biology and when I was younger, I had wanted to be a paleontologist. I then went through phases of dreaming of being an architect, a chef, and then a lawyer. Eventually, I figured I’d fall back on the old standby of biology. My mom works in the biotech industry and she cautioned me about job prospects as a biology major, especially if I only had a bachelor’s degree. I figured, I’d go to med school, make a comfortable salary, all while helping others. My fellow pre-med friends senior year cautioned me against picking Berkeley for pre-med, because of its competitive atmosphere and grade deflation. Other UCs like Davis or San Diego had more variety in their biology-related majors and provided more support for students seeking a career in medicine or health fields. I remember my parents wanted me to go to Davis, do well there, and then apply to medical school. For much of senior year, they had buffered my fears of college rejections by saying that the school of one’s highest degree matters most. Once I got into Berkeley though, that thought left my mind.
I came into Berkeley as an intended Molecular Cell Biology (MCB) major, but I soon switched to being an intended Integrative Biology (IB) major. IB was more about ecology and evolution, which I both enjoyed in AP Biology, while MCB was about cellular functions (which I hated). I took summer classes before freshman year and I remember during floor introductions, I mentioned that I was originally MCB but had switched to IB because the MCB upper-division classes seemed boring. Turns out my future friends were highly offended at my bashing of their major, but I stand by my statement!
I also decided to take some classes in psychology in case I wanted to switch majors. During my sophomore year, I figured that I had taken so many of the psych prerequisites already that I might as well just declare psychology as a second major. When people ask me about my major now, I always get a very weird look when I tell them that I’m psychology for my career and IB for the fun of it. A lot of the MCB majors are pre-med so the idea of taking classes for fun is super foreign to them! As for my career aspirations now, I hope to become an educational counselor, preferably in a high school or college setting. I was in fact inspired to do so by my experiences in Interact Committee. Every Real Talk during stayover, I’ve been amazed at the problems that the Interactors deal with, all without telling their parents or friends about. I hope that I can be a resource and confidante and mentor to students in my career because nobody should have to face their problems alone. I’ve also been very inspired by my participation in the Pen-Pal mentorship program, and it’s such an amazing feeling to see my mentees succeed.
You thought that was the end of it, didn’t you? Nobody in their right mind would attempt more than a double major at Berkeley right? (Let me introduce you to some of my crazily ambitious friends…) Last semester, I took two Asian-American studies classes for my breadth requirements, and I loved them so much that I’m pursuing a minor in the discipline now. It’s been refreshing to take humanities classes for a change, especially ones that apply to me directly as an Asian-American. I think that my minor even more than my major embodies taking classes for the fun of it. I feel that I owe it to myself after a lifetime of interest in biology to pursue a major in it, but Asian-American studies is something that I had little exposure to before last semester but chose to pursue out of enjoyment. Overall, my advice is to not lock yourself into a major until you absolutely have to, and to take inspiration from passions outside of the classroom, because if you’re doing it in your free time, why not make a career out of it?